Race 14 - Day 10
Crew Diary - ​Birthday on Board
11 July

Melanie Smith
Melanie Smith
Team Seattle
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Birthday on Board

At 0400 hours UTC, sitting in the nav station starting a fresh page in the log, I noticed the date was showing as 5th July. It was my birthday!!

This is the first and possibly the only time I will ever celebrate my birthday halfway across the Atlantic Ocean, on a 70ft racing yacht, and I’m savouring every single moment.

It’s been a long time coming, having completed leg 5 and started leg 6 before having to return to the UK in March 2020, due to the pandemic. My Clipper Race journey started during, and most likely because of, a period of big changes and personal development for me and during the past 2 years I have found my soul's purpose and retrained for a completely new path.

Taking 6 weeks out from building my new business was not an easy decision to make and at one point I really wasn’t sure I could fit it in. But my heart took over and once I listened and made the decision to rejoin my incredible crew for Leg 8, everything fell into place. I feel like I am exactly where I’m meant to be.

I received so many fabulous surprises for my birthday. Some of my favourites were having ‘Happy Birthday’ sung to me no less than 11 times! A gooey chocolate brownie birthday cake baked and decorated with my initials written in m&m’s….of which I had three pieces in the end but shhh don’t tell the rest of my team. I helmed the boat in 28 knots of wind, despite being highly reluctant, with a huge amount of encouragement and support by two of my fantastic teammates on Kraken Watch. I received a birthday card filled with awesome messages from my crew and more love than anyone could hope for.

One of the essential tasks on board is to check the bilges during each watch. This involves pumping out water from various parts of the boat and pulling up the floorboards, scooping out or soaking up with a sponge, any water found and putting it in a bucket to be passed to up to some lucky member of crew up on deck, to be thrown overboard.

It’s not a very pleasant task and it’s made extra fun when the boat is heeled over at 45 degrees. On my birthday I had the honour of being on bilge duty and when I was tired and damp, I received help from two of my watch’s with this joyous job. I thank you both, you know who you are.

Sitting on deck during Kraken’s afternoon watch, watching the huge waves roll by and all too frequently crashing over us, I thought about my family and boyfriend a lot and I knew they’d be thinking of me, on my birthday. They have all been amazingly supportive of my endeavours, so I want them to know I’m having the experience of a lifetime and I’m embracing every minute.

I will never forget the birthday I spent sailing across the Atlantic Ocean!

Until Race Start : The Asia-Pacific Challenge